komadich wrote:And one question for the ones that have some knowledge about the technique: for the left hand, do you strike with one finger (ring) or do you use more of them?
while I don't (yet) play ntama, I do play various frame drums. The position I like to use requires the use of one hand resting on the top of the drum, very much like the way in which the "free" hand in ntama is used. In that position, it's possible to create many different effects - finger rolls, "hits" (with one or more of the fingers striking the skin), and presses (one or more fingertip/finger lightly pressing the skin), and muted strokes (done with the fingertips or with the whole finger).
I'm guessing - from watching some ntama videos from a number of W. African countries - that the use of the fingers (middle finger, ring finger) depends very much on the sounds and effects that each individual player wishes to create. It's generally easier (for me) to use the 3d ("ring") finger to create accented strokes with the hand is in the position that both ntama players and many frame drum players use; there seems to be more strength in it than in the middle finger. But I would guess that it is important to practice using both the middle and 3d finger.
With this kind of playing, it's *very* important to have a relaxed wrist and fingers. It would probably help to do stretches for the lower arms, wrists and fingers, too. And it will take some time to build up strength in the hand/fingers that are used to press/strike the head of the ntama. it will probably be a slow process - so just keep practicing and don't give up!
I would also think that the amount of strength used to create presses and strikes is very much dependent on how you hold the ntama. I've noticed that many Nigerian players tend to hold their talking drums lower down (against the side of the torso, not directly under the arm). I know that Senegalese (etc.) ntama players tend to hold their drums right under the arm, but I would guess that it's possible to hold the smaller ntamas lower down on the body... However, I haven't tried this myself, so I don't really know for sure.
But I do think that holding the drum lower (against the side rather than directly under the arm) is much easier in terms of not having muscle cramps, tight shoulder and neck muscles, etc. Again, though, since I don't (yet) play, this is just a guess. (Taken partly from my experience with playing darboka, where the "free" hand and arm rest on top of the drum, as with the frame drum position I mentioned earlier in this post.)
Hopefully, someone who *does* know about ntama playing will be able to provide some information and help here...